Women’s basketball remains undefeated in February, blows out Northern Illinois at home


Lillie Leasure

Senior guard Hannah Young on Wed. Feb. 16, 2022 scored 11 points against Northern Illinois. The final score of the game being 67-43 Kent.

Kathryn Rajnicek Reporter

Kent State’s women’s basketball team (16-7, 8-6 MAC) now sits in fourth place in the Mid-American Conference following a blow out 67-43 win over Northern Illinois University (10-13, 7-8 MAC) in Kent Wednesday.

“I thought we did a good job defensively, especially in spurts, and obviously they missed some shots they normally make,” coach Todd Starkey said. “This was kind of like the game at their place when we had a hard time making shots, and they had a hard time making shots here. A lot of that had to do with our defense.”

The Flashes are off to a 6-0 start to the month of February following a less than stellar 2-5 month of January.

Kent State shot 64.3 percent from the field and 80 percent from behind the three-point line in the first quarter to total 23 points. The Flashes defense held NIU to 35.7 percent from the field and 25 percent from behind the three-point line to total 14 first quarter points.

The Flashes defense kept up the solid start holding the Huskies to 23.5 percent shooting and 10 points in the second quarter. KSU shot 50 percent in the quarter to take a 38-24 lead to the locker room at the half.

The third quarter was all Kent State defense as the team held NIU to just four third quarter points on 7.1 percent shooting. Sophomore guard Jayden Marable made the Huskies lone third quarter field goal. After three, the Flashes led by 25 points heading into the fourth.

The Flashes shot 46.2 percent in the fourth quarter and scored 14 points. Kent’s defense allowed 15 points on 33 percent shooting in the fourth for the Huskies.

Overall, KSU’s defense held NIU to just 25.4 percent shooting from the field and 8.3 percent shooting from behind the three-point line. The Flashes allowed just two three-point makes for the Huskies in the contest.

“I thought we did a really good job,” Starkey said. “There were a few lapses here and there, but overall anytime you hold a conference team to 43 points, that’s a really good effort.”

The Flashes shot 52.8 percent overall and 30.4 percent from behind the three-point line. The defensive and offensive success combined for a 24-point win.

Leading the way for Kent State was junior guard Katie Shumate with 15 points and five rebounds, junior forward Nila Blackford with 14 points and nine rebounds and senior guard Hannah Young with 11 points and five rebounds.

“I thought we played really efficiently through Nila [Blackford],” Starkey said. “Seven for nine from the floor is really good. I think one of the big reasons why we’ve been on this winning streak is because we’re getting Nila a lot of good touches in the context of our offense, and she’s not forcing things as much. She’s looking to be aggressive where she needs to be.” 

Blackford had an efficient night on the offensive end, shooting 7-of-9 in the game.

“I really tried to get out into the passing lanes and get some easy scores to the basket and just be aggressive,” Blackford said.

Young, who has been battling some ankle injuries, made three of her four three-point attempts.

“I’ve been in treatment for like four hours a day, so that’s definitely been helping me,” Young said. “It’s probably been about a month since I first rolled my ankle, but it’s definitely getting better. I’m back in rhythm and everything is good now.”

Leading the way for the Huskies with a double-double was junior forward A’Jah Davis with 17 points and 10 rebounds. 15 of Davis’ 17 points came in the first half of play. 

“We knew Davis was going to get hers, but you have to make it tough on her,” Starkey said. “She was 5 for 13 in the first half, and she was 1 for 2 in the second half from the floor. I thought that was a really good thing for us.”

The Flashes bench outscored NIU’s bench 21-8 which showcases the depth of Kent’s rotation. Off the bench, Kent State’s leading scorer was sophomore guard Casey Santoro with eight points and freshman forward Bridget Dunn with six points.

“I’ve said it multiple times, we’ve got eight players on our team I feel like could start for us and it’s hard for those three players that are coming off the bench because you want to start,” Starkey said. “But, I think those three players have really bought into that and understand that when we’re really good off the bench, that second punch that we have coming off the bench at times is what puts us over the top.”

Kent State was outrebounded 36-31. Specifically in the offensive rebounding category, NIU outrebounded the Flashes 16-2.

“I’m not pleased with the fact that they got 16 offensive rebounds,” Starkey said. “They missed a lot of shots, but we only had two offensive rebounds in the game. We look at stuff like that moving forward, we’ve got to do a better job of keeping teams off the offensive glass.”

The Flashes turned the ball over 15 times which resulted in six Huskie points while NIU turned the ball over 11 times resulting in 12 Kent State points.

“So, this was a really good win for us,” Starkey said. “All wins this time of year are good, but it was nice for us to come out and put this kind of effort together and continue the momentum that we’ve started.”

Kent State’s next game is against the team that’s just ahead of the Flashes in third place in the conference, University of Akron (12-8, 9-5 MAC). The game is on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Akron.

Kathryn Rajnicek is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]